Debra Horsman in her match at the 4.0 Senior event in Indian Wells, Calif.
© Jeff Bottari/USTA
By Eli Gieryna
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - For Debra Horsman, tennis isn’t just a game. It’s an escape.
Horsman, a member of the Southern Section team at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler Senior 4.0 National Championships at Indian Wells Tennis Garden from Oct 17-19, is competing at the championships, but has family on her mind.
She has two children with cystic fibrosis, 23 year-old Anthony and Amber, who is 27.
“Tennis is my way of escaping from all of that,” Horsman said. “When I’m competing with my teammates and out on the courts, it helps take away some of that stress.”
Amber, in particular, has struggled with the disease during the past year. With Amber’s condition worsening, Horsman was forced to quit her job so she could spend more time with her daughter in the hospital.
In June, Amber underwent a lung transplant that doctors hoped would alleviate many of the breathing problems she was suffering. The prognosis is still unclear, as Amber has struggled to adapt after the surgery. This week, after Debra arrived in Indian Wells, Amber experienced complications with her anti-rejection medication, causing a series of seizures.
“It’s been a frustrating few days,” Debra said. “They’re hoping she’ll be out in 2-3 days, but still, it kind of feels like one step forward, three steps back.”
In addition to Amber’s recent difficulties, Anthony has been suffering from a decrease in lung function, and may soon need to get on the transplant list.
But through it all, Debra maintains that tennis has been her way of dealing with the stress that comes from the hospital trips, changing medications and other roadblocks.
“I really don’t know what I would do without tennis,” she said. “I’m awfully competitive, and being out on the court help release a lot of those emotions. A few months ago, I had a pinched nerve and couldn’t play. I almost went crazy.”
Debra has also found support from the local Lexington, tennis community. They’ve helped support her during the recent transplant and hospital stays, and also started a prayer chain for Amber.
With both Amber and Anthony’s recent struggles, Debra will be unable to return to work for quite some time. And because of that, tennis will remain her outlet.
Debra and partner Robin Robey won their first match on Friday, defeating a pairing from New England by a score of 6-2, 6-2.
“Win or lose I’m so happy to be here, and to be able to keep playing. It’s fun and my best escape.”